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The Nigerian international midfielder marked his first start in the new season with a goal against FC Neftci of Azerbaijan

Joel Obi signified his readiness for the African Cup of Nations Cup qualifier against Liberia next weekend with a goal in the Europa League match against FC Neftci on Thursday in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The 21-year old just returned to full training last week and was on the bench for last weekend’s match against Fiorentina, though he did not get any game time. Obi is part of the 15-man foreign based list that is expected in Calabar on Monday to confront the Lone Star of Liberia on Saturday.

Obi scored the second goal in Inter Milan’s 3-1 away win in the 30th minute after receiving a yellow card in the 25th minute. The Nigerian had been eager to play the match so that he will be in better shape for Nigeria’s match and he got his wish as he was fielded from the start by Coach Andrea Stramaccioni. Obi celebrated his goal with a series of somersaults and said he was happy to score on his return to the team.

"I never thought I would score so soon after returning from injury, but that made it feel all the more special,” Obi said to his club’s official website.

He added that it was more gratifying after a very difficult period with injuries. “The coach and the club have faith in me and that's very motivating,” he added.

He dedicated the goal to his family and everyone who stood by him throughout the injury spell and believes he has a role to play in the emerging Inter Milan team though he did not say in what capacity in the coming weeks and months.

“That's not for me to decide, but it's important to be playing,” he concluded.